“On July 1st, 2016, we stood in a field at an old dairy farm, having our gender reveal photos taken. I was 17 weeks pregnant with our second child Sloan. We would go on to share our announcement photos on July 3rd, 2016. A year later to the day, he was gone.
It’s been three years since those photos in that field, where I stood pregnant with a baby boy whose entire lifetime can now be counted on one hand.
Sometimes it feels like all of that was eons ago. As if it all occurred in some past life that I only vaguely recall the details of because I am someone else now. I’m a shell of that person, there are pieces of me reminiscent of her, but her shell is now filled with the loss, pain, lessons, healing, and gratefulness that only trauma can teach.
Our journey to having Sloan had been a long one. We’d tried for several years after having our oldest, to have a second child. Suffered two miscarriages, gone through secondary infertility, a round of clomid, and a pregnancy that felt like an eternity, before we were finally bringing home that sweet bundle of joy. So when we lost him to SIDS when he was 7 months old, I harbored anger. Anger over just how much we’d gone through to have him, only to experience even worse trauma when he died. We said that was it, we were done. We couldn’t fathom having another child. We were devastated and our grief was immeasurable.
But, three months after his death, we found out I was unexpectedly pregnant again. We couldn’t believe it. We couldn’t understand how it had been possible after the struggles we’d had trying to conceive Sloan. But, 11 months after he left this earth, his sister was due to arrive.
Pregnancy after loss is such a balancing act. It’s bittersweet, full of both joy and trepidation. In so many ways I was ready to smell that scent, to touch that brand new, flaky baby skin, to feel another of my newborn babies nestled in my arms. In other ways, I was terrified. Fearful of how soon after his death I would need to welcome another delicate life into the world. How triggering it might be, how overwhelming.
I remember being so scared during my pregnancy with Sloan, as he followed those two miscarriages. I was constantly worried, nervous over any little thing that felt or seemed unusual. But once he arrived, it went away. He was there, he was safe, he’d made it out of my womb and into our arms. My pregnancy with Phoenix was not worrisome in those same ways. I did not fear the ‘during.’
The gestation wasn’t the scary part at all, it was the after. It was knowing that even after she arrived, we would still constantly be fearful of her fragility because of what happened to her brother. For the first several months of my pregnancy I felt guilt, guilt based in carrying new life after the end of Sloan’s.
I spent so much of those days drowning in my own grief and self-doubt. Would I be able to love her? Would we be able to give her the mother and father she deserves? Not one overcome and preoccupied by the death of her brother before her? Would this be fair to Rowan? How would he cope with yet another enormous upheaval in his life? Would he be able to bond with her? Or would his love for her be marred by what happened to his brother?
As the day of her birth drew nearer, my mind cleared from the fog of doubt. Rowan’s excitement became my own, Justin and I reveled in his joy, which encouraged our own.
And then, she was here. We could hold her, smell her, hear her cry. She was absolutely everything we didn’t know we wanted again. She was a born healer, whether she would ever know it or not. After nearly 9 months of teaching me how to navigate the emotional stress of a pregnancy after infant loss, she would now teach me what it meant to rise from the ashes.
Her birth meant so much more than I could fathom explaining. It was like coming up for air after nearly drowning under the crashing waves of grief and guilt. Her brother’s death had nearly destroyed me, and then…she was there, she’d arrived, and she’d saved me.
It’s been 14 months since Phoenix reignited the joy in our lives, and I’m currently 21 weeks pregnant with another rainbow girl, due the same week I was due with Sloan.
I am personally very comfortable with this little rainbow sharing the same timeline to existence with Sloan. I know some expect it to be triggering, and understandably so, but for me it is calming. Because this is a different baby, at a different time in my life, with a different story. I am able to separate the two despite the familiarity. Just as Phoenix has, this baby girl has her own identity. I can envision her as she is without being clouded by my grief for her brother.
Phoenix’s existence in our lives has healed us so deeply and taught us so much. There were triggers of course, but we have learned and will continue to learn how to manage them as she grows and traverses life. Phoenix was our rebirth from the ashes of loss, the fire and tenacity she brought to us during such darkness has eased a bit of the harshness of any future triggers we may experience with this new baby.
Each of my 4 babies has held a universe within them of lessons, magic, and discovery. Each with their own destinies, each their own person with their own story.”
This story was submitted to Love What Matters by Jordan Peterson-DeRosier. You can follow her journey on Instagram and her blog. Do you have a similar experience? We’d like to hear your important journey. Submit your own story here, and be sure to subscribe to our free email newsletter for our best stories.
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